CDC Issues New Guidelines to Combat Hospitals Sepsis Risks

One out of every three hospital deaths involves a sepsis diagnosis, according to CDC officials, which issued new guidelines to reduce the risk of hospital infections.

Federal health officials have released new guidelines designed to help hospitals and healthcare facilities reduce the risk of deadly sepsis infections, which claim more than hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Many hospitals are not fully prepared to treat the complex, life-threatening infections.  Among the nearly 2 million Americans who get sepsis every year, more than 300,000 will die from the hard-to-treat infection.

In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new Hospital Sepsis Program standards on August 24, to help hospitals combat sepsis risks and reduce the overall number of infections that occur.

Hospital Sepsis Risks

Sepsis is a life-threatening infection that requires urgent medical care to prevent tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Symptoms can include decreased blood pressure, fever, increased heart rate, confusion, shortness of breath, and weakness.

Sepsis is the body’s response to any infection, including COVID-19, surgical site infections, influenza or others. The condition is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide.

Roughly 20% of children who get sepsis will develop other severe medical conditions in the months following the sepsis diagnosis. Some of those conditions include chronic respiratory failure, nutritional dependence, chronic kidney disease, worsened epilepsy, and the progression of other existing medical conditions.

Nearly 90% of adult patients with sepsis who were taken to the hospital were admitted with an infection that was not improving. This type of persistent and complex condition can devolve rapidly and requires the coordination of multiple departments to help prevent patient death.

Sepsis Program Guidelines for Hospitals

The new Hospital Sepsis Program consists of seven core elements the CDC says will ensure effective hospital teams and resources are in place to quickly identify sepsis and improve survival rates.

The core elements include leadership commitment, accountability, multi-professional expertise, action, tracking, reporting, and education. Each element is designed to help hospitals implement, monitor, and improve sepsis programs.

The new core elements program was modeled after the CDC’s Antibiotic Stewardship core elements.

“Sepsis is taking too many lives,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen said in the announcement. “One in three people who dies in a hospital has sepsis during that hospitalization.”

The new sepsis program guidelines call for early and rapid diagnosis and immediate treatment, including the administration of antibiotics, to potentially help prevent immediate side effects and long-lasting side effects.

Elements of the sepsis program include tracking program initiatives and goal progress, as well as reporting sepsis outcomes and program management to ensure the core elements are being administered appropriately to help patients.

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The CDC calls for program leaders to take ownership of the program, training, and implementation within hospitals. The program leaders are responsible for setting goals, improving care, and improving patient outcomes.

A recent CDC study of national hospital sepsis programs among more than 5,200 hospitals indicates that 73% of hospitals have a sepsis committee, but only half of hospitals provide time for dedicated program leaders to manage the programs.

The launch of the sepsis awareness program was timed to coincide with the sepsis awareness month, which occurs in September.


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